Friday, May 6, 2011

Food Writing & Kitchen Nazis

  I was reading one of my favorite foodie blogs, Molly Wizenberg's Orangette, recently where she reminded me of a previously read and enjoyed book I own. She shared an Almond Cake adapted recipe from Amanda Hesser's book, Cooking For Mr Latte . I love food writing books. A good example will have the feel of a friend sharing a good recipe and telling the story behind it. The first time they made it, who they served, the conversations that were sparked, the kitchen mess-ups & fixes, the inspirations, relatives, and traditions that cumulated in the recipes creation along with the development of characters make you connect and want to turn the page, leaving you sad when you reach the last one.

  I promptly pulled it off the book shelf and started a re-read. After Chapter 10 entitled "Letting Go", I felt the need to break for a blog post. She writes here of a friend's confession of being a Kitchen Nazi striking a nerve with her. She goes on to entail her own kitchen idiosyncrasies. As I paused after reading the chapter I considered my own kitchen hangups. I love cooking. Sometimes it can be so relaxing, almost meditative chopping, stirring, boiling the most simple of recipes. Other times I'm filled with a burst of creative energy, merely playing with ingrediants, inventing my own creation. If you love to cook than you almost exclusively love to feed. This will usually bring the entry of people into your sacred kitchen. Some inevitably will ask if they can help. Some may ask for the recipe. I appreciate immensely the offer of assistance, and depending on my mood I may even except. However, as much as I enjoy cooking, the pressure of certain recipes requires a dance of pots, timers and consequitive events transpiring. A dance that sometimes can be thrown off by the addition of a well meaning talking friend, not allowing my brain to constantly be checking off the next to do of it all.
  I'll take this oppertunity to give my own little confession story. I don't always want to give all my recipes away. This may be surprising to you seeing as I've shared many recipes here on the blog. I find it rather amusing, as well as perplexing why some get so aggitated by this rare occurance. Recently I had a group over for dinner on a day where time got away from me. There was no need to stress. I have a box of go to recipes that are easy to make and sure to impress. As some started to arrive I was cooking away. Into the kitchen enters a woman, let's just call her "The Hawk". The Hawk swooped in a flurry offering her help while lifting lids and taking in all the counters contents. As this was one of my "keep to myself" recipes I politely said I was almost done and merely asked if she could bring in the tray of appetizers to the other guests. I'll admit this was mainly just to get her out of the kitchen. She quickly returned asking what was in my creation. I vaguely threw out a few ingrediants that were pretty obvious and tried to change the subject. I'm not the best at being direct especially when it might be taken as rude or unkind. Since she made it apparant she wasn't leaving I gave her a job to do across the room at the table so I could add my secret ingrediants to the pot. She got the point I was'nt really wanting to share. However she had her own plan . She moved her project over to the counter with her back to me sending the "I'm not watching you" vibe. Yet The Hawk couldn't be trusted. She stealed glances repeatedly over her shoulder noting everything going on. In the end it was so ridiculous I finally told her the whole thing. But truthfully, is it so rude to want to cook for friends without giving up every recipe? If you want it again all you have to do is say so and come on back over. I'll gladly cook it all up for you again. I believe every good cook should have a few "trick" recipes up her sleeve. How do yall feel about this? Am I crazy?

PS. Check out some of my other food writing favorites above. All of these books can be found in my amazon book store, found at the top of my blog under My Amazon Favorites.


Adriane said...

I think you have every right to keep your recipes secret, especially if you created them. I find it funny that you wrote about that today because I just requested a recipe from someone, knowing full well that there was a possiblity my request would be refused. At least you don't do like some people, who claim to give you the recipe but purposely leave out a key ingredient making it sure to fail.

MaybeThisDoor said...

I at times ask for recipes too, but if I get the slightest inclination they don't want to give it away I would never push or try to harass or prod someone further. I'm sure you wouldn't either Adriane. And No I would never do anything like that. That's just plain mean.

Anonymous said...

Love to hear how much you "love to cook." But you sound more "gourmet" than your mother, more like your sister!!!


Anonymous said...

BTW, I'd like your Shrimp Spring Rolls w/ Peanut Sauce receipe!!!

;) Please.

Mars said...

I had a similar situation at a potluck for my kids karate class. I made my extra awesome chili and this woman just would not stop pushing for the recipe. (She was that way about everything else too) So I told her I used the mix!

MaybeThisDoor said...

Mars- Ha ha, serves her right. I think my new pet peeve is pushy people.

Anonymous said...

In this day and age you can find just about any recipe online. In the thousands of years humas have been cooking i dare say yours was solely original. It makes you seem weird and uptight when you don't give out recipes. Cooking should be inspiring and fun and if you love food you should share with others! Chances are you really wouldn't want to cook for this person again, it sounds like you don't like them very much.

Anonymous said...

This was a good blog entry to read. I totally can relate. Plus, you can also have those helpful people that try to tell you that you should do it a different way as you are working at creating your masterpiece. Annoying!

By the way--thanks for sharing your little recipe gifts!


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